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Smart Car A-Frame wobble


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I was reading on your forum that members had experienced problems when towing a Smart Car Fortwo model in that, upon take off from a standing start and hard turn left or right, the car 'wobbles' violently from side to side. I've had it explained to me, by a firm that specialises in A-Frame manufacture, that there is one model of Fortwo (within a certain year range) that doesn't have steering dampers fitted. The previous models and later models did and therefore don't appear to have the problem. I'm currently investigating the possibility of retro fitting these steering dampers to my model (year of manufacture, 2010) from one of the other models. If do-able, I'll post the results on a later forum.

In the meantime and with a bit of a 'kiwi' number eight wire mentality (google 'kiwi' number eight wire mentality) I have experimented with tying two pieces of elastic to the steering wheel, one on each side and tethering them to a point in the interior, so the wheel rights itself when turned. The elastic doesn't have to be super tight. Just enough resistance to self right easily. This appears to have solved the problem, but again - I'll post results/conclusions later.

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Please excuse this move sideways from the topic however I could not leave this thread without a comment on the "Kiwi number 8 wire mentality". As regular contributors will probably be aware I live on the NZ "West" island. (Kiwi speak for AU) there are a large number of Kiwis living in AU including my Bro in law. The term mentioned came about , I understand, due to a NZ law that restricted who and what could be imported. It was designed to protect industry in that country and jobs, known as licensing. As a result lots of "things" were not available as new components thus the need to innovate. One of the positives that this situation caused was that Kiwi tradesman became extremely flexible in what they could do and make, some say "worlds best". IMHO if not then right up there. The licensing laws were repealed back in the 1990's from memory. The result was a lot of small businesses went to the wall due to very inefficient production methods maintained due to the Govt protection. Now back to "a frame wobble" cheers,
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Welcome to the Out&AboutLive forums, lamcorb.


This 2013 forum discussion discussed a Smart Car ‘snaking’ when towed on an A-frame




and on the 2nd page using bungee cord to centre the car’s steering was mentioned.


I’m neither Smart Car-literate, nor A-frame towing-literate, but I would have thought that any car without a power-steering system would tend not to have a steering-damper and would be inherently prone to the type of behaviour described in the 2013 forum thread, and a car with a power-steering system would tend not to need an extra steering-damper as the system itself would provide a damping capability.


Harking back to my motorcycling days it was commonplace for large fast bikes to have a friction steering-damper or (later on) a hydraulic steering-damper to counter ’speed wobbling’, (I still bear the scars from coming off an ‘undamped’ bike on a Sunday evening, but that’s another story.)


It’s evident from on-line adverts that (as you’ve said) some Smart ForTwo models have had a steering-damper (description below)




It’s logical to believe that Smart decided that fitting a damper would be beneficial/necessary, so it’s odd that your 2010 Smart has no damper but earlier and later models did.


It wil be interesting to learn if a damper can be retro-fitted to your car and, if so, whether it tames the wobbling.


This 2012 USA discussion may also be of interest





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No issues A-frame towing the Fortwo Cabrio with our MoHo that I'm aware of, certainly no juddering when turning.


It's a 2010 non-PAS. using the overrun braking system rather than the more modern electric or vacuum systems, so are the Toads brakes free before take off and if overrun type is there slack in the pull on cable? Is it tightening up when pulled off centre while turning?


I haven't noticed if my Smarty has a steering damper or not.



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I think you’ll find that New Zealand’s towing regulations differ significantly from the UK’s and that it may be legal to tow a lightish car (eg. a Smart Fortwo) using an unbraked A-frame. (lamcorb will be able to say if that’s so).


The following factsheet makes it plain that the NZ Transport Agency is not fond of A-frames




(Although the factsheet is dated November 2013, it does not appear to have been superseded.)

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